Customer Experience… The new UX (2013 post)

customer-experience-billboard

Customer Experience (CX) in business, particularly in utility, telecos, energy, banking etc is not a new concept. Since Business Process Management (BPM) began to map customer experiences across functions and multiple customer touch points, businesses have realised that customers engage in multiple ways. By doing this they also realised that these multiple touch points need to be consistent and seamless, that is to say one channel should provide just as good an experience as another and allow customers to start and end an interaction through any channel.

This extends the thinking of User Experience (UX) from digital design into physical spaces to what has been called service design or now customer experience (CX). Semantics really, what is important is that users/customers expect to interact with us in any place and at any time, or what is referred to as an always on environment.

In the past User Experience evolved as digital sort to optimise user interfaces and architects sort to connect users in better ways, to improve computer machinery interactions. The approach to UX or what was then Usability, in the 90’s, focused on the interaction model, interfaces that were not necessarily intuitive but intuitive to learn. The next evolution was to engage users in the design to develop a User Centred Design process.

As smart phones became relevant, Users began to interact on digital devices in physical spaces. Also the interactions were not necessarily limited to the device but more often linked to the physical space. The rapid growth of Social in the the later part of the zeros helped drive this. Consumer and retail spaces saw customers search for product information, on their phones, while physically touching the product. In this case consumers knew as much if not more than the sales staff. More importantly consumers could physically research the product, try it and then purchase it at the best possible price from an alternate vendor.

These sorts of examples threatened the old bricks and morter model. The development of brands, such as Apple, highlights that one space does not make the other irrelevant. We only need to look at history to know that one channel does not necessity supercede the other, for example still photography did not destroy the medium of paint. In the case of Apple they ensure that shopping in store is the same as shopping online, unifying the experience.

The final and most important point of CX is that interactions with our customers is not limited to a channel or a single process. In stead it is may begin within any channel and move across channel and device. For example a user may start online, waiting for a bus to research a credit card and complete an application at home. To pick up the card they may go Instore whilst linking their PIN. The number of touch points is not an issue, the challenge is to ensure consumers are able to connect seamlessly at any point of time they need too, regardless of location or device.

UX to CX

The aim of CX is to pull together channels (contact centre, online, Instore, direct etc) into a seamless and frictionless experience across digital and physicial environments. This covers the end to end experience and expands UX’s scope. The move can create friction as CX strives to move physical design into its realm, typically protected by industrial designers and architects.

The opportunity/challenge or solution to this is to create a cross functional team working together to deliver digital and physical solutions with some generalists able to work in both the digital or physical realm. This approach will become the evolving approach to UX and in my view the norm…. It will become the next evolution to UX as it becomes commoditised and the accepted approach.

The White Agency Film Competition (2013 post)

Video content and the ideas of internet as a broadcast channel are no longer a question. Whilst broadcasting rights controls the nature of content the channel delivers, content itself is no longer constrained by technology.

The internet directly drives the nature of video content online as it aims to deliver an immersive experience rather than a linear one. Marshall McLuhan identified this in the 60s as he talked about television by saying, “The medium is the message“.

To create an environment where Creatives pick up a camera in the same way as a pen, white developed the white film competition. The objective was to help promote the challenges, processes, techniques, highs and lows involved in creating video content. The competition targeted Producers, Account Managers, Developers, Strategists and Designers in a discipline outside their areas of expertise.

White kicked off the competition in 2012 with a creative concepting day. Staff was then divided into seven groups, and within each team, members were allocated roles from director to production designer, editor to actor. The teams were led by people with no video production experience, with staff from the Video department taking supporting roles. Staff were given three weeks to produce a film. The competition kicked off with a three hour masterclass in ‘Acting & directing for the screen’ and ‘Camera techniques and lighting’.  Groups were given four hours to shoot their work – see the work at  http://www.thewhiteagency.com.au/film-comp-lights-camera-action-2/

The 2013 comp will kick off in January. Watch this space for behind the scenes footage… as history tell us these scene can be good as the films…

The speed of relevance

Speed of relevance

When I was a kid the heroes of TV’s Midday Matinée Movies had been the same for 30 years. Bogart and Cagney where still the cool guys… followed closely by Steve McQueen and Paul Newman. They were relevant… symbols of Hollywood. To become relevant people used the channels of the day; cinema, print radio and TV. Back then a marketing response took weeks not hours to prepare… conversations were one way. To create relevance took time and relevance had a longer shelf life. The other day I was talking about River Phoenix with twenty-somethings who had no idea who I was talking about. I realised that the very nature of being relevant and the length of relevance has shrunk. Technology has been key to this.

The role of advertising and marketing has always been to increase relevance… share of voice, recall and ultimately the business imperative… sales. In the age of digital and social the speed of relevance shifts as we operate in an “always on environment”. Search is a constant reminder how quickly we can loose our rankings and therefore relevance.

My first social campaign was for the “Bring David Hick’s home” (Amnesty International Australia) campaign in 2007 (video – http://youtu.be/JD9zdGJEnRc or visit peterbuckmaster.com). At this time the concept of viral social campaigns was amplified by Chris Crocker’s “YouTube” video post “LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE!” that had surpassed 44 million views. Today, in contrast, Psy’ Gangnam Style has generated over 482 million views in 3 months. The speed of relevance is also limited by its ability to remain new. History teaches us that the avant-garde becomes the rear-garde. That is to say the cutting edge after time becomes accepted into mass cultural and it’s difference becomes the norm.

If we understand the importance of relevance and accept that the avant-garde will become the norm, how and why do we seek to protect our relevance? The answer is simple… we seek to protect and preserve ourselves, whether it be the individual or the entity (a.k.a the organization). How we preserve our relevance is another discussion. The first part is to admit we seek and indeed obsess with it.

Relevance in advertising was first mapped anecdotally based on sales and then by a mix of market share and research (brand recall). Public Relations (PR) was the first to measure the value of media by placing a value on exposure/real estate and equate this to paid advertising placements. It then expanded this to valuing word of mouth. To do this PR used media monitoring services to identify mentions and conducted analysis on the quality of the mention. Like any channel it sort to include metrics on frequencies, volumes and reach.

It is no surprise that the first form of social monitoring came via Search Leveraged PR – essentially a tactic to distribute content through out the web. Search engines made it easier to tract the effectiveness of these releases by identifying indexed content using keywords (across multiple search engines).  The tactic also had the advantage of improving your website’s Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) through backlinks.

The development of social media saw the introduction of social media marketing and social media optimization (SMO). Key to this was the development of Press Release Distribution that pushed content to blogs, news channels and general online sites through automated feeds or releases that can be downloaded from the distribution site. A key aim is to aggregate content by search engine news channels; Google News, Yahoo! News, Bing etc to improve your relevance in search engines.

This reminds us that search is still the hero for users navigating the web and keywords are the method for this. Therefore relevance is not only about your brand keyword (individual or organisation’s name) but the generic keywords. In the age of digital words have taken on greater value; cheap flights, home loans etc are words that organisations seek to own. The value of relevance is therefore strengthened through association. Brand strategy has always sort to bind words through values and attributes, however, digital seeks to directly attribute words to a brand to drive relevance and as a result direct consumers to a brand through search/search engines.

Maintaining Relevance

Cognitive science teaches us that working memory, and the ability to remain relevant, occurs as we select the right sensors (sight, sound, touch and smell) to capture stimuli and build a representation of an object. In the world of brand advertising this is extended so that the object and the brand are one in the same.

In copy/content, stimuli are presented in the form of brand/generic keywords, while in visual formats stimuli may take the form of colour; linking a colour to a brand and therefore increasing brand recognition. To create and maintain relevance we seek to increase recognition through memory. To do this we create focuses on stimuli, across the sensors and optimize these to the marketing channel.

Like Google and its search algorithm, relevance and being relevant is always changing, however, the basics are still the same.  Cognitive science tells us the ability to remain relevant is directly associated to working memory and in advertising this still means the need to develop a brand and brand recognition, the benefits of increasing this are typically seen in an increase in brand value and therefore profitability.

Using cognitive science we know that to increase recall we need to focus on stimuli appropriate to each sensor, for example for sight – an identifiable colour; sound – a distinctive sound cue and taste – a distinctive favour. In an ideal brand scenario we create linkage. Great examples are – the colour purple and Cadbury chocolate, the sound of an Apple Macintosh on start up and the distractive cola taste of a Coca Cola. In digital owning a word or set of keywords is important as much of a websites’ equity and ranking is built through search and search engines that use keywords.

In brand part of the approach of creating recognition and relevance is to further develop the physical characteristics of an object by associating it to human characteristics and therefore create greater bonds through a Brand Personality. Along with brand attributes we create a brand image. All this takes into account a person’s relationships with others (persons or things), judgments, feelings and values in relation to the brand.

In advertising once a consumer has had exposure to a brand and identifies to its image, they falls into an acquisition funnel, as they go from awareness to consideration. To be considered is indeed to be relevant as we remain in the working memory. We will however from time to time need to be used (or purchased) as this ultimately dictated our relevance and sustainability in working memory.

The final thing of note in creating and maintaining relevance is the ability to increase your relevance through relationship. Relationships and communities have always been a strong focus in building brands. In digital the biggest change has been the advent of social – social networking and social media marketing, building community through peer-to-peer relationships. The medium is indeed the message as it seeks referrals and recommendations through groups. The marketing bit is the tactic of amplifying these recommendations through selected Super Users thereby increasing our relevance and ultimately our reach. In social many mistake campaign success with number of likes/friends or members. However in many cases it is not so much the volume of people as much as the level of engagement that gives the greatest benefit. For example 1000 people who engage with you once is not as powerful as 100 people engaging with you weekly.

It is also important to note that social as a medium uses many of the old constructs of PR, looking at word of mouth as a powerful tactic to build your relevance.

Conclusion

Becoming relevance and maintaining our relevance is an instinctive human desire. For brands maintaining relevance can be linked to the ideas of cognitive science and remaining in the working memory. In short:

  1. Identify stimuli and align this to the sensor and then channel: – This is part of building brand aware and owning/associating physical attributes – such as a colour or sound or keyword.
  2. Align stimuli to a Brand Personality – values/attributes and ultimately a brand image.
  3. Be viable to be sustainable. This is important, as anyone in marketing will tell you it’s always easier to sell people something they want.
  4. Build relationships and communities. Identify word of mouth opportunity and build advocates to amplifier and maintain your relevance.

In the social media, everyone can hear you scream (2008 article)

The rise of social networking media is stirring up a nonprofit sector eager for new opportunities to connect with and attract supporters. But as organisations dip their toe into this fledgling field, many are finding it a difficult maze to negotiate.

Social Networks a Forum for Influence

 Nonprofits and political groups have always engaged with social networks, which have traditionally taken the form of community groups, clubs, societies and other kinds of organisations. By engaging with these groups, nonprofits and political organisations hook into “human networks” that share information.

Through evolving technology platforms, social media is extending traditional human networks. Blogs and applications like Facebook and Twitter are allowing people to have two-way communication and create content for their friends, peers, family, workmates, and just about anybody who wants to listen, look, chat, or exchange information on a topic of interest. One of the key points to understand about social media networks is that they acknowledge that people seek, and are influenced by opinion. People look for advice from others. They like to research something before they make a decision about it. They like to tap into the thoughts of leaders and experts, and social media networks provide a valuable tool in this.

 What is Social Media Marketing?

With social media rapidly attracting millions of users, and this number growing exponentially all the time, the commercial and nonprofit sectors have spied an opportunity to try and snare customers and supporters from this mushrooming pool of networkers. But how do you connect and engage with these people? Marketing your cause to such a vast and diverse audience is not only challenging, it can be downright confusing.

Australia has around 13.5 million internet users with 4 million Facebook members and some 500,000 bloggers. In short, social media marketing is about hooking into these people through conversations and advocacy.

Social media marketing involves the integration of social networks with social media around issues or “topics of the day” to create conversations, debate and buzz. It also means producing content (to help stimulate the conversations), implementing search engine optimisation (to attract the right people to the conversation) and tracking and reporting.

Social media marketing is an area that advertising agencies are keen to leverage, but people in social networks don’t like to be preached to or advertised at. And herein lies the kicker for nonprofit organisations. The work of nonprofits naturally lends itself to the social networking space because the issues and causes they are addressing provide great fodder for individuals to express their views.

Social networking is like a soapbox. Some people will champion your cause and be prepared to blog about you until the cows come home, and this is perceived to be a legitimate exercise because the blogger doesn’t have anything to gain by sharing their views. But if a commercial organisation tried to do something similar to promote its services, people would feel like they were being flogged a product – and they definitely do not like that in the social networking world.

Generating Donations

There are examples of social media being used successfully for fundraising, however like all online activities this is a new and evolving field. In the UK for example, WaterAid teamed up with Thames Water to promote World Water Day and raised funds through a social media marketing campaign. A good test to assess the possibility of people donating to your cause through a social media marketing initiative is to look at the effectiveness of your current search campaigns. If visitors to your website through these search activities convert to donors then social media will work for you. If the answer is “we haven’t run a search campaign yet” then do this first.

 So What’s It Good For?

Campaigning: social media is great for campaigning and advocacy. For nonprofits that engage in grass roots activism it’s an excellent medium for using amplifiers (people who are prepared to voice their thoughts).

By providing amplifiers with tools such as case studies, research and other information, you can help them to spark and maintain conversations among their networks. Or put simply, you market to one to talk to a hundred.

But you don’t have to be an “activist” type organization to use social media marketing. Other nonprofits this would work for are those that are trying to educate the community on specific issues such as diabetes or homelessness.

Lead Generation: social media is a great environment to generate leads as its users are the “long end of the tail” if they‘ve taken the time to search and read content. This is not dissimilar to direct mail where the “ask” is more likely to be achieved if the supporter has taken the time to read and engage in the letter.

There is also the added advantage that supporters can often see an immediate impact from their actions. For example, when a person is asked to pledge support to an issue they can usually see onscreen the number of pledges increase by one immediately following their sign-up.

Case Study 1 – Human Rights on the Radar

 In 2008 a human rights organisation successfully campaigned on the issue of internet censorship during the Olympic Games in China. The purpose of the campaign was to generate awareness about freedom of expression online and acquire leads for potential donors.

Prior to the campaign the organisation had a 5% share of the social media conversations occurring on this issue. To create more buzz, research was conducted to identify a list of influential bloggers who were sent emotive content, thus encouraging them to advocate about the issue. Conversations were maintained by monitoring blogs and responding to comments.

Further promotion was done by distributing content through newswires such as PRweb and integrating paid search initiatives and banner media. A key part of the campaign involved encouraging people to pledge their support to the issue by signing up to a register.

 Results:

Traffic to the website increased 590% during the key campaign week of July 23-30

Pledges doubled to 30,000
1,430 blogs posts were posted
18,071 conversation threads were generated
Organisation’s website went from page 5 to position number three on campaign keyword searches. This occurred within forty-eight hours of the campaign launch.

Share of conversation jumped from from 5% to 70% base on campaign keywords.

Case Study 2 – Fight Against Water Poverty the Winner

WaterAid Australia recently used social media marketing to drive awareness of water scarcity by asking people to sign up to a challenge to live off 30 litres of water a day.

The campaign used newswire releases (optimised for the web), link baiting (where people link to and from your website) and optimised web page content.

WaterAid was able to achieve the number one search ranking for “World Water Day” within seventy-two hours, with 60% of registrants providing a telephone number (for later follow-up and possible donation ask).

Implementing a Social Media Campaign

 There are a load of strategies to consider however the basic approach is:

  1. Research – start by identifying campaign keywords (including paid search keywords) and map these to “share of conversation” research. This would include instances of your brand being associated with campaign keywords, for example “sponsor a child” mentioned with “Childfund”.
  2. From “share of conversation” identify key bloggers.
  3. Rate Bloggers.
  4. Develop content (e.g. case studies, background articles on the issues, interviews, downloadable pdfs) and optimise content for search engines.
  5. Engage key bloggers and provide them with assets (i.e. content pieces)
  6. Distribute content to general newswires (to encourage link baiting and social media optimisation).
  7. Set up a “supporter decision path” for transactions (e.g. donations), linked to a strong “call-to-action”.
  8. Ongoing tagging of content and reporting, base-lined against benchmark reports.

Bring David Hicks Home Campaign (2008 Article)

Integrating a multi-channel campaign

In 2007 I worked with a multi-discipline team, across multiple agencies to deliver a campaign for Amnesty International Australia. The campaign was for the “Bring David Hicks Home”. AIA campaigners had developed the idea and it was our job to support them in its execution. What was most interesting to me at the time was it was my first Social campaign that captured supporter sentiment in the replica Guantánamo Bay cell via a 60 second video message to the Prime Minister. Messages were uploaded to You Tube and then aggregated onto the campaign mini-site. For me it was also my first integrated campaign that crossed experience, digital, direct mail, Face-to-Face and telemarketing with a combined message and “call to action”. The installation travelled to the United States of America for Amnesty USA’s “Tear it Down” campaign, following Obama’s during the 2008 presidential election.

I’ve included the case study and video for your perusal.

Hicks onto Close Guantánamo…

BRING DAVID HICKS HOME CAMPAIGN (AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL AUSTRALIA)

MARKETPLACE CHALLENGE/OPPORTUNITY

David Hicks had spent 5 years without trial in Guantánamo Bay. Amnesty knew he would be tried by a Military Commission that violated international standards. Time was running out to help prevent Hicks being tried unfairly in a legal black hole. To motivate the public Hicks’ reputation of being “the worst of the worst” would need to be shaken.

OBJECTIVES

Get 3,000 individuals to ask the Prime Minister to “bring David Hicks home”.

Ensure that the data captured was of sufficient quality to facilitate effective follow up communications such as campaign updates, and invitations to donate money.

TARGETING & STRATEGY

Australians who believe in “a fair go” but don’t have a lot of spare time to protect that value. The strategy was to convey an experience… experience the injustice of life in Guantánamo Bay for yourself – step inside

TACTIC/EXECUTION

The execution was to recreate a sensory deprivation experience. A full scale replica of Hicks’ detention cell was constructed and toured across Australia. Tablet PCs captured digital signatures, donations and data. This made responses quick and redefined the fundraising experience.

Amnesty volunteers asked people to digitally sign up to the campaign on a wireless PC tablet – the first ever use by a charity in Australia.

People could sign their name with a stylus. All captured signatures were presented on a scrolling plasma screen imbedded in the outside wall of the cell.

Video media including audio/visual & touch screen, cam recorded personal messages from the public. The messages were then published on YouTube and to a supporting campaign website. An outbound EDM keep Supporters up-to-date with the campaign.

RESULTS

Over 30 days of activity 4,000 individuals joined the campaign, this equates to 133 people a day.

In comparison a personal request from Bono during a U2 concert in Sydney to 70,000 people achieved just 3,000 names of individuals notably less engaged in the cause itself.

The rate of sign up from the cell campaign beat previous site records obtained using volunteers wielding clipboards by 44%.

Because of the quality of the data and depth of emotional involvement generated, a healthy 7% of those signed up through the cell have been converted into monthly supporters of AIA.